5 Great B-3 Drawbar Settings

October 4, 2012

I STARTED PLAYING ORGAN IN 1963 AS A COLLEGE FRESHMAN. I HAD TAKEN piano lessons when I was very young but didn’t care for them. Then I heard Jimmy Smith around 1962 and decided I wanted to play the Hammond. I became a B-3 owner in 1964. I played pedals and left hand bass for several years early on, which gave me a real appreciation for the Hammond and its incredible power, versatility, and soul. These days, I seldom end a tune with the same drawbar settings I began with. Here are five of my favorite starting registrations you can try on your Hammond or clone.

Smith Plus1. Smith Plus

This takes the Jimmy Smith-style sound and adds the 4' drawbar for more body. I set the harmonic percussion “four up:” on, soft volume, fast decay, and third harmonic. Without the percussion, it’s a solid sound for rock and R&B comping. I set vibrato chorus to C3 and leave the Leslie (or rotary simulation) on slow.


Simmerin’2. Simmerin’

This understated stop is full of character. It works well for comping as well as block chord soloing. I seldom keep the Leslie on fast for long, but this sound is the exception, as the fast speed is part of the “simmer.” I don’t use harmonic percussion or vibrato/chorus, but you can set the latter to C3 if you want a little more edge.


Mellow-Dee3. Mellow-Dee

Here’s a nice round tone for comping behind singers or other soloists—no vibrato/chorus or harmonic percussion on this one. For this sound, as well as for most others I play, I change Leslie speeds often and quickly.



4. Shoutin’

This Gospel-tinged tone will still penetrate over a full band. Harmonic percussion is off, and I vary between no vibrato/ chorus and the C3 setting. This sound works well for rhythm comping, and will help get an organ solo over the top of the guitar player. I constantly alternate Leslie speeds on this one.


5. Whistle Stop

This versatile sound is good for both soloing and comping. Whistle StopVibrato/chorus is set to C3, and there’s no harmonic percussion. With this sound, I prefer the Leslie fast for soloing, and slow for comping.



“Watching great organists play live—not just listening to their recordings—will help your musical education immeasurably,” advises legendary organist Mike Finnigan, who has played with Jimi Hendrix; Joe Cocker; Crosby, Stills, and Nash; Rod Stewart; and most recently Bonnie Raitt, with whom he’s now touring. He’s also sung and played with the Phantom Blues Band for 13 years.Mike Finnigan

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